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L.A.'s city libraries eliminate Sunday and Monday hours

The five-day-a-week schedule is the third reduction in hours since December and results from of a $22-million budget cut.

July 20, 2010|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

Libraries throughout Los Angeles were shuttered Monday as service cuts made in response to the city's budget woes took effect.

The Los Angeles Public Library system dropped to a five-day-a-week schedule, with doors closed Sunday and Monday. The system includes the Central Library downtown, eight regional libraries and 64 branches.

The reduced schedule comes after the city cut $22 million and 328 full-time positions from this year's library budget.

Many of the jobs eliminated were vacant or early-retirement positions, but the library system also sent layoff notices to more than 100 employees three weeks ago, library spokesman Peter Persic said. Those laid off included 20 full-time librarians.

The move to a five-day week, which library system commissioners approved June 10 in response to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget cuts, was the third reduction in library service hours since December.

"It will definitely impact the service, because it will reduce the accessibility of the library's resources," Persic said.

Library supporters gathered Monday morning at the Central Library to protest the cuts. But many book lovers who showed up at the library later in the day were unaware of the service reductions until they walked up the steps.

"That's not very convenient, is it?" said Beatriz Escobar, a 47-year-old bank worker who went to the library on her lunch break in search of books on origami and crafts for her two young daughters.

Oneil Dennis, 34, said he goes to the library on average two or three times a week on his lunch break or after he gets off work at the Los Angeles Opera. On Monday, he planned to return a copy of "The Essential Michael Jackson."

Annoyed that he had made a fruitless trip, Dennis said he understands the need for cuts given the current fiscal situation.

"I'd rather it be closed two days a week than closed permanently," he said.

Persic said no other service reductions are expected, but that could change if the city's revenues fall short of projections.

Former Mayor Richard Riordan said Saturday that the city's budget problems could cause every local library to close within two years.

Miguel Santana, the city's administrative officer and top budget official at City Hall, called that impossible because the City Charter, the legal document governing the city's operations, requires a minimum level of funding for libraries.

The new Central Library hours will be10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Branch service hours will be 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

For information about locations and hours or to access the library system's online resources, go to http://www.lapl.org.

Some libraries inLos Angeles County's Public Library system — which is separate from the city system — will also reduce service hours as of July 26. For information about county library hours see http://www.colapublib.org.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.

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